“People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring." - Rogers Hornsby
Well, Rogers Hornsby didn’t have Twitter. This quote could use some modernization. Something like this:
“People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I waste my time having internet conversations with strangers about baseball, most of which have little value.” - Peter Ellwood
Baseball is unpredictable, we know that. In 2012, Philip Humber threw a perfect game. Sure it was against the Mariners, but a perfect game is a perfect game. After that perfect game, he had a 7.39 ERA the rest of the season. He ascended the ultimate peak in baseball, and then wasn’t good enough to have a job in the majors immediately following it. Were it not for this paragraph, you would have completely forgotten about Philip Humber in the next 12 days (if you hadn’t already).
That’s how unpredictable baseball can be. Philip Humber happens and Mike Trout happens and the Oakland Athletics and Baltimore Orioles happens and 250-foot infield fly rule calls happen. So as we sit here in the off-season and spout conjecture about what could happen in 2013, it all could happen. It almost certainly won’t happen, but it could.
Here are ten possibilities (both good and bad) that could happen for the 2013 Texas Rangers. Consider each one, and consider the emotion, the passion, that would stir within you in response.
#1: What if Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz repeat 2012, and David Murphy doesn’t? Kinsler and Cruz are candidates for rebound years, while Murphy looks prime to regress hard to the mean (especially vs. LHP), but what if the worst case scenario happens? The Rangers offense could easily become very pedestrian. Beyond 2013, that could also mean Cruz and Murphy would leave in free agency after next year, while Kinsler could be shopped in the trade market (as Evan Grant suggested).
#2: What if Elvis Andrus takes another step forward in 2013? If Andrus becomes one of the top three or four shortstops in the league in 2013, does that make him a larger necessity to sign to an extension, or a better trade chip to move to open a spot for Jurickson Profar?
#3: What if Matt Harrison’s lack of strikeouts finally catches up to him? Harrison has been a top-20 pitcher the last two seasons, but has done so by depending on ground balls and defense, unlike many of his peers among most valuable pitchers. One unlucky year could significantly cut Harrison’s value.
#4: What if the Rangers trade for Giancarlo Stanton? After an off-season that had the Rangers poised to make a major move at any moment, they look set to enter the season with lots of dry powder, waiting for the right moment to spring a blockbuster deal.
#5: What if Derek Holland moves closer to reaching his potential? And what if he doesn’t?
#6: What if the Athletics’ magic carries over into 2013? What if Mike Trout leads an Angels team from good on paper to good in the field? Are the Rangers ready for a true pennant race that runs the length of the whole season?
#7: What if age starts to catch up to Adrian Beltre and Ian Kinsler? What if new veterans AJ Pierzynski and Lance Berkman don’t adapt to the Texas heat well?
#8: What if Alexi Ogando gets hurt? What if Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz struggle to complete their rehabs, or don’t return anywhere near their previous form?
#9: What if Yu Darvish becomes a true Ace?
#10: What if the Rangers win the World Series?
You could go crazy with all of the possibilities. It’s part of what makes baseball maddening. It’s part of what makes baseball amazing. Maybe Mr. Hornsby had it right after all. Time to go find a nice window.
Peter Ellwood is a Senior Staff Writer for Shutdown Inning. You can email him at Peter.Ellwood@shutdowninning.com or reach him on Twitter @FutureGM